Saturday, January 30, 2010

Army Love

The family in Germany - 2008

When our family visited Germany in May of 2008, Matt and I joked around about how cool it would be to be stationed in Germany. We fell in love with the country. In fact, Germany was our, surprising, favorite vacation destination during our two years abroad.

Matt's an outdoorsman through and through. His dream vacation or long weekend consists of hiking and climbing high peaks in the middle of winter and camping out overnight on the summit. And, while he's in grad school getting an MSA, I think his dream job after retiring from the Army would be forest ranger or something of the sort. Germany offers much more outdoor, deep in the woods, high in the mountains adventures than Portugal or Kansas. And, let's not getting started on the beer. Germany can accommodate both the brewer and beer snob.

The Army rarely grants dreams two times in a row. When we moved to Kansas this summer, I began to prepare myself for a less than desirable duty station. That's only fair, right? We got "ours." Our time was up. It was time to get back to the reality of normal military life. I was okay with that.

I wasn't okay with the Army holding out on us for six extra weeks (we were supposed to find out in mid-December). I wanted to start looking at school districts for the girls. I wanted to get Lila on wait lists for preschools. I had plans, you know!

I've been on edge for days, knowing the announcement was eminent. Yesterday afternoon, while Matt and I were out, he received a text message from a friend telling him to check his email. We hopped in our Prius, raced home and eagerly waited for Matt's computer to boot up and his email to open. I stared at him but didn't read over his shoulder (he hates that). He clicked on the email, scanned it over quickly, slammed himself back into the couch cushions with a, "Hrmm. Hrmmm. Ok." Shug, shrug.

I thought, "Crap!" and yelled, "What? Where?" He didn't speak; only pointed to the screen, where my eyes jumped past the, "Congratulations" and planted themselves on the only word that was important: "Germany."

I know this isn't fair. I'm not a mean-hearted person. I know there will be families who hated their last duty station and who got more bad news yesterday. They'll read my blog or my Facebook updates and hate on me. There's even a small part of me that thinks, "Wow. We need to trade with a family less fortunate. This is totally unfair." Then, there's the part of me that's like, well I do have Meniere's disease. Someday, I may not be able to travel much or at all. This may be my time to see the world. Who knows. It is what it is. Fair or not. Right now, I'm feeling the Army Love.

Now, we wait a couple more weeks to find out where in Germany. Then, we make decisions.
  • Do we get rid of our dog? We spent $1,500 bringing him back from Portugal just a few months ago. Getting him back over will be close to another grand (or more). In three years time, we'll have spent over $4,000 in kenneling and shipping the dog overseas and back. He's turning into the most expensive, over-bred Spaniel ever. And, he's horribly behaved and terribly annoying.

  • School for the girls: This decision was made during the visit to Germany in 2008 and etched in stone when Olivia became fluent in Portuguese. Our children will go to German schools. Olivia will be a bit behind to start off as kindergarten starts earlier in Germany than in the US (I believe). But, she's bright enough to catch up quickly (we hope) and has enough language mapping ability to catch on quickly (again, we hope). Being immersed in a language is nothing new to Olivia. If Lila has similiar langauge ability as Olivia did at her age in Portugal, she'll be fluent in German 4-5 months into the school year.

I can't wait to begin researching the area in which we'll live. I'm excited and anxious and seriously feeling bad for the families who didn't get the duty station they wanted. Matt has warned me to, once again, keep my excitement contained as to be fair to those families and I'll do my best!

We've still got a few more months in Kansas and we're going to enjoy, embrace and not rush this time we have with the very dear friends we've made here and who we'll have to leave behind in June!


Angie said...

It might not seem fair to you, because Europe is where you want to be. Some people actually ask for Alaska and Fort Hood and are excited about it. (Actually, I was initially excited about Alaska, too, but it wasn't my dream duty station. We asked for Europe.) We've known people who were upset that they were stationed in Europe.

You can still feel bad for people who aren't happy about their assignment, but don't apologize for getting what you want. Honestly, you aren't going to get a lot of things you DO want from the Army (stability, your husband at home,) so just rejoice when you do.

Yes, kindergarten starts at 3 in Germany, but it's preschool, really. Except for the language, I don't think she'll be behind. They go to Kindergarten for 3 years. I don't know anything about school after Kindergarten, because I don't know anyone who was sending their child to the German schools after K. Naturally, it depends on where you live, but some of the German k had limits on how many Americans they would take. Others took more, but then the kids are less likely to pick up the language when they have other English speaking kids. Anyway, that's just to say, find out about the schools right away.

I am definitely envious. Getting to move interesting places is the best thing about the Army. I wasn't ready to leave Germany, and we would love to go back. You are moving to Germany. We are moving to Tulsa. Ah.

Is Matt hoping for the stryker brigade?

Brenda said...

I am so excited for you! You have never had a stateside assignment -- lucky you. AK is considered overseas, is Matt aiming to be a FAO? Chad wants Germany after KS, but I want the states. I love Europe, but Bennett will be in HIGH SCHOOL. I want him to be able to experience the US High School system, since I think it is better than DoDDs. Congrats!

House Dad said...

Wow. You lead a charmed life.

The Matthaidess' said...

You guys are very lucky. I'm convinced that Ed will never get a European station. I guess that we'll have to settle for Alaska and Fort Polk, LA (Can't you sense my excitment?). Haha!

Jay and Amie said...

Very excited for you!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! -Mick

~Nerderella said...

I don't think you should feel guilty for getting what you wanted!

I am really excited for you. Congrats!

Smitty 1, 2 , 3 and 4 said...

yey! How fun. I am so excited for you, especially excited that you'll get to have the girls learn a language after all. Congrats.

Mellor said...

I'm terribly jealous, and happy for you and your family as well :) Take me with you :)